Pages

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Zero Zero licensing application

We are writing to oppose this application.

Most, if not all the conditions the applicant is seeking to remove or modify, were imposed only this year after the committee had heard and seen evidence of appalling scenes of noise, disorder and drunkenness resulting from the trading at these premises. The police also gave evidence of drug dealing over an extended period of time for which successful criminal prosecutions had been brought.

The imposition of these new conditions has created a significant improvement in the level of nuisance generated by the operation of these premises.

Given the relative success of these conditions we are very concerned to see the management of these premises seeking to have them removed or made less effective.

A brief visit to their social media site shows that the re-branded Zero Zero primarily targets young people and does this on the basis of cheap drink offers. A sample offer from their Facebook site being:

£1 Smirnoff & Red Bull (Before Midnight)
£1 BOMBS ALL NIGHT
£2.50 Corona Beer or £10 for bucket of 5
£3 House Doubles

We are particularly concerned about the emphasis on cheap bombs and mixture of spirits with high caffeine drinks as these are frequently associated with drunkenness and disorder.

The information provided on the web site is very limited, but as we understand it the applicants are seeking to:

1. Lift capacity limits based on a risk assessment which they have commissioned. We are not clear what the basis of this assessment is but we would expect it include:
    - risks of drunk customers not being observed and continuing to be served alcohol
    - risks of early signs of disorder being missed
    - risks of injury to customers if disorder breaks out in a crowded club
    -risks of drug dealing being unobserved as the number of people in the club increases
If it does not include these things, we would oppose it being used as the basis for setting capacity limits.
2. Relaxing the recording conditions around toilet checks and staff training. We believe these should remain as a component of monitoring the compliance of premises that have shown such catastrophic failures of management in the recent past.
3. Reducing the numbers of door staff in attendance. This is a premises which, until these conditions were imposed, had an appalling track record on keeping good order in the premises, keeping illegal substances out of the premises and maintaining order when customers dispersed at the end of trading. We know of no substantive changes that the premise's management have made which are likely to make up for the reduction in door staff.
4. Removing the need to have a female door supervisor. We do not see how adequate checks can be made for dangerous or illegal substances or objects being brought into the premises if all door supervisors are male.

5. Removing the need for staff training to be provided by accredited providers. We can see no justification for this at all. Alcohol licensing law and practice are complex and subject to frequent change and this is a premise where in-house training has in the very recent past demonstrably failed to deliver best or even adequate practice in this area.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

TARA on Radio Bristol

On Monday our chairman appeared on BBC Radio Bristol's breakfast show talking about the results of the Council's Alcohol Harm Review and questioning whether it would lead to effective action, particularly in terms of BANES providing much needed leadership in the critical area of multi-agency working.

Never mind action count the post-it notes

Today's Gull Seminar is the latest in a series of events run by  BANES which seem to be more aimed at publicity than problem solving.

BANES council has had large amounts of information about urban gulls and the problems of and options for controlling them for some time. TARA recently ran a conference to bring together experts and major commercial landlords to discuss the problem. We have attended at least three other information gathering  events involving BANES staff.

None of this analysis has suggested that what is really needed to address the problem is a very expensive brainstorming event at the Guildhall.

What was needed was leadership. BANES should have taken the information and expertise it had and used it to implement a well thought through plan plan to address the issue.

The money spent at the Guildhall today could have gone some way to replacing the Pest Control Officer posts that BANES has cut or used to continue the subsidies that BANES used to provide to support residents in implementing anti-gull measures but has now withdrawn.

Yet again we seem to be seeming a preference for form over substance.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Reply to a question at BANES budget fair

At the BANES budget fair we asked about plans to fund the much postponed implementation of the Air Quality Management Plan a plan which statute requires the council to maintain because of the high levels of pollutant concentrations across most of central Bath.

At the time the question seemed to cause some confusion with both Councillors and Senior Officer appearing to know little about this important issue.

We have since received a slightly more detailed explanation as follows:

"Thank you for raising the issue of funding for the Air Quality Action Plan.    We work closely with the Transport teams and many of the measures in the AQAP are being progressed by them, eg. the Freight Transhipment Scheme and Bath Transport Package measures including the expansion of park and rides and installation of variable message signing on approaches to the city.   

Two of the main measures in the action plan are the Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study and the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure.  We successfully bid for DEFRA funding for the Low Emission Zone Study which we are now in the process of writing up following an extensive traffic and air pollution dispersion modelling exercise.  We will inform you when the study is available and this will be presented at an event TBC.

We were also successful with the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure element of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) and have installed charging points at Charlotte Street car park, with 8 further sockets being installed early December at Odd Down and Lansdown Park and Ride.   We have also provided charging points to employers and have a programme for further charging points across the area paid for by the LSTF.  The network which we have helped set up is here : www.sourcewest.info/

We will be reviewing the Air Quality Action Plan for Bath and the available funding streams from central government and other existing related council budgets in the new year.


In summary, we do currently have financial resource through central government grants for the completion of key elements of the action plan and work with Transport Planning and their budget on measures which also work towards improving air quality."


Saturday, 19 October 2013

SAW CLOSE CASINO AND HOTEL

TARA supported the selection of the Saw Close site from the three alternatives considered by the council for the granting of a licence for a casino under the terms of the Gambling Act 2005.  Accordingly there is no objection to the mix of uses proposed or to their general arrangement on the site.  On other issues we have limited our comments to matters likely to be of concern to local residents, namely, arrangements for access and circulation of vehicles and pedestrians, the external appearance of the buildings and arrangements for disabled people.

1.    Service access.  TARA supports the shared space concept, that the space available in Saw Close should be shared by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles both in Phase 1 and in the completed development.  We also support (with qualifications) the proposal to provide no car parking on the site.  There is a lack of clarity, however, where service vehicles are concerned.  It is clear that refuse collection and electricity substation vehicles will access facilities from Bridewell Lane.  It appears that other service vehicles, including emergency vehicles, will use Saw Close but we have been unable to find clear and detailed information on how this will be managed; the number of such vehicles anticipated, how they will gain access to buildings and, in particular, where they will be positioned while carrying out their operations.

Experience has shown that shared space works best when vehicles are of limited size and in slow forward motion.  There are, however, inherent risks in allowing large service vehicles to park and manoeuvre haphazardly in shared space where pedestrians and cyclists are present.  The proposal to restrict service vehicle access between the hours 10.00 and 18.00 could, if implemented, make matters worse as it is during evening hours that Saw Close is likely to be at its busiest.

We suggest that arrangements for the management of service vehicles in Saw Close should be clarified.

2.    Building design.  Saw Close is known for its complex history which has resulted in a rich variety in building massing, architectural design, roofline and elevational detailing.  The architect is known for widely admired work in the area and it is regrettable that, despite a number of alternatives considered during the consultation stage, the elevations to Saw Close still display an over-scaled, angular geometry which seems insensitive to the detailed articulation that is typical of this important urban space.

We suggest that proposed elevations to Saw Close be reconsidered.

3.     Parking for the disabled.  We support the removal of short stay parking spaces from the site as well as the absence of new parking in the proposals.  However, we think more thought should be given to parking for Blue Badge holders.  It is normally a sound principle in any city centre that where there is a proposal to exclude most traffic from an area in favour of pedestrians and cyclists parking for the disabled, who may be unable to take full advantage of the improvements, should be increased or at least maintained rather than reduced.  With the removal, without replacement, of the three existing spaces for Blue Badge holders on the site the nearest available short stay parking will be adjacent to Kingsmead Square, a distance of some 200 metres, and this parking resource is likely to come under increased pressure.

We suggest that the number of parking spaces available to Blue Badge holders on the site should be maintained or increased.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Place Making Plan

Of the five development sites in the city centre identified in the Launch Document we have selected for comment the two most relevant to our members’ concerns, SB1, the Cattle Market site, and SB3, Manvers Street. In both cases we have used the council’s Core Strategy Document (Policy B2) and Place Making Plan Launch Document as a frame of reference.

CATTLE MARKET SITE

1.      This is a transitional site which acts as a bridge between the commercial heart of the city and the Walcot Street area of residential streets and small, independent enterprises including pubs and restaurants and many craft and home related service businesses.  Development of Site would provide an opportunity to establish a more effective link between these areas reducing the current relative isolation of Walcot Street and improving pedestrian flow to and from the city centre.  Development of the site should emphasize mixed uses with residential uses predominating but with a continuous commercial frontage on Walcot Street combining small and medium sized units.  While there could be a case for replacing the Hilton Hotel on the site in general large or multi-occupancy uses should be avoided.

2.      Building massing should reflect the character of the surrounding area with building heights limited to four levels above Walcot Street grade.

3.      Traffic congestion on Walcot Street already ranges from moderate to severe throughout the day.  Any mix of uses for Site SB1 should aim to reduce to a minimum the need for on-site parking and any temptation to continue to use this area as a parking resource for the city centre as a whole should be avoided.

4.      Public access to the riverside must be protected.  There could be a case for extending the riverside walkway north from Pulteney Bridge but if further extension to Beehive Yard and beyond proves impractical, as seems likely, then a suitable destination for pedestrians should be provided within the site.  This could, for example, take the form of a riverside park with moorings and a pedestrian bridge across the river to St Johns Road could also be considered.

5.      Any development of the site needs to incorporate a satisfactory role for the Corn Market building which has been in a derelict and unsightly condition for too long.  Considering the numerous failed attempts to identify a future for this important building  an agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 covering a larger area of the site may need to be considered.

MANVERS STREET SITE

6.      The Manvers Street site has two principal characteristics.  The northern part of the site, currently mainly a car park with adjoining police station, has external linkages mainly to hotel and residential development to the north (South Parade) and west (Manvers Street), with some supporting commercial frontages but only limited links to the city’s retail core to the west.  With its two churches and mosque the emphasis here should be on residential development with commercial uses limited to supporting retail and services and the opportunity should be taken to provide a more appropriate setting for St John’s church. Building massing should reflect the height of buildings on South Parade and Manvers Street


7.      Bounded by the river and the railway the southern part of the site has limited external linkages and is dominated by the Royal Mail sorting office and some commercial office development.  Larger industrial and commercial uses would be suitable here and there is an opportunity to create a pedestrian link to the station from the north.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Meeting with Julie Girling MEP

We and CARA approached Julie Girling MEP to set up a meeting to share our concern about the high levels of pollution in Bath which are damaging the health of people who live and work here and are damaging the historic buildings which are at the centre of the city’s economic prosperity.

We approached Julie as a member of the European Parliament with  known concern with environmental issues.

BANEs, in common with many others, appear to have be in breach of European directives on this issue but appear to be doing little to remedy their breach. The EU appears to be accepting this situation far too easily.


BANES has a notional plan for addressing the issue of air pollution but appear to do little more than monitor pollution levels, expand the area under management and move the dates on all other action back another year.

The meeting took place on the 6th September and Ms Girling has undertake to put forward the Parliamentary Question to the Commission with regard to the air quality in Bath and to have a further meeting with us to plan future actions.
 

The OPA planning Appeal

In July 2010 OPA applied for retrospective planning permission for change of use from restaurant to mixed use as a restaurant, bar and nightclub.  This was refused.  

Since this decision OPA has continued to operate as a nightclub in defiance of the committee's decision.

Finally a Development Control Committee meeting in June this year decided on enforcement action and B&NES sent out the appropriate notice telling OPA to stop operating as a nightclub within 21 days from 7 August. 

OPA has appealed against this order and a Planning Inspector has been appointed to hear the appeal. TARA has made the following representation to the inspector.

This part of the city centre is primarily residential.  The block on which OPA is located bounded by North and South Parades and Duke Street is entirely residential containing 65 apartments in 7 apartment buildings as well as ASE (Advanced Studies in England) a residential hostel for foreign students which has operated on North Parade above the subject premises since the late 1980’s although we understand that due to the disturbance created by the nightclub ASI has had to suspend the use of rooms in the hostel.

 These premises cause significant harm and distress to local residents by reason of high levels of noise and disturbance. For some time, and on many occasions, local residents and local businesses have complained about the noise created by OPA’s operation. The noise complained of derives from extensive noise leakage from OPA’s premises and noise created by, often rowdy and intoxicated, revellers entering and leaving the building and gathering outside on the pavement to smoke.

It is perhaps useful in this context to quote the Planning Policy Guidance:

“Commercial developments such as fast food restaurants, discos, night-clubs and public houses pose particular difficulties, not least because associated activities are often at their peak in the evening and late at night. Local planning authorities will wish to bear in mind not only the noise that is generated within the premises but also the attendant problems of noise that may be made by customers in the vicinity. The disturbance that can be caused by traffic and associated car parking should not be underestimated”

OPA has effectively become a nightclub by stealth. The premises were operated as a restaurant between 1983 and 2007 without adversely affecting the amenity of local residents and this is the appropriate use for these premises.

 If the appeal is granted a precedent will be set for other bars and restaurants elsewhere in the city centre to flout planning regulations, and turn themselves into nightclubs.  This is not fair to the majority of businesses who play by the rules and show respect for the planning regulations.

TARA has no objection to OPA operating as a traditional well managed restaurant similar to many others in residential areas of the city centre.  Our objection is to OPA as a restaurant/bar and nightclub.

This appeal if granted threatens the delicate balance which exists between businesses and residents in this small and primarily residential corner of our city. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Questions prepared for a meeting with the Chief Constable Nick Gargan and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens

Question 1


What are you proposing to do to improve the liaison with other agencies to rationalise and improve enforcement processes?

Background

Viewed from a resident’s perspective there is an ever growing body of regulation which is either enforce inadequately of not enforced at all. Examples range from pavement parking and vehicles using roads from which they are banned to serving drunks and the enforcement of licencing conditions.

There appear to be two underlying causes of this:

Firstly the creation of regulation with no discussion of how enforcement will be resourced, this is a particular issue for the police as policy and regulations tend to assume police enforcement by default.

Secondly there is often a lack of clarity about enforcement strategy between agencies particularly in the licencing enforcement.

Question 2


What is your position on how CCTV should be developed in the City and what are you doing to ensure it develops in that way?

Background

CCTV is playing an increasingly important role in the policing of the City centre particularly at night.

As residents we are concerned that there is continued investment in the network and in particular key gaps in the provision are addressed.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Porter Licensing Application

We broadly welcome the premises being proposed here as a replacement for what was one of the principle sources of noise and drink fuel antisocial behaviour on George Street. In doing so we rely heavily on the promises made by the applicant's company, both in private meetings and in public announcements, that the new premises will be not be a vertical drinking establishment but be much more broadly based with an emphasis on food.

There are however three areas which we would like raise with the Licensing Authority with a view to altering the proposed conditions.

Firstly if there is going to be amplified music we would like to see a condition requiring the use of noise limiters set at a level agreed by Environmental Protection. These premises are in close proximity to a number of residential premises and noise leakage from amplified music has been a significant problem in the past including during the tenure of the applicant's company. It is perhaps worth pointing out that neighbouring premises have a similar condition.

Similarly most premises in the area have a condition requiring them to clear litter from their immediate vicinity. Smokers outside this type of premises will inevitable create considerable litter nuisance and it seems reasonable that the applicants should clear up any mess caused by their operation.


Finally, we would ask the committee to give careful consideration to the hours of operation. The noise affected area around these premises in Gay Street, George Street, Miles buildings and parts of the Circus are heavily residential. It is not clear to us what the applicant’s case is for the extremely late opening hours he is proposing. We hope that the Licensing Authority will undertake appropriate enquiries to ensure that the hours set are both necessary and proportional.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

City Governance

Unlike most other cities, Bath does not have its own city council or even have a network of parish councils to discuss local issues.

There are a very small number of BANEs Councillors who are elected to represent the City.

The rest of BANEs is of a very different character to the City and has very different issues and priorities.
Bath is the economic power house of BANEs and this combined with the assets transferred on the creation of BANEs supports and subsidises other parts of the region.

We therefore welcome a discussion of these issues as proposed by the BANES Conservative Councillors.

However, unless central government embark on a re-organisation of local government in the region creating a Bath based authority with real power it is unlikely that any of the proposed local fixes would offer anywhere near the control of Bath by its resident’s that would deliver meaningful change.

Most of these local fixes envision the creation of local forums or authorities which would have little effective power beyond some moral authority but which would all come with very real costs which would have to be borne by local tax payers.


We wold argue that if local Councillors really what to address these issues they should first look to their own policy processes and budgeting strategy’s and accord Bath the priority its economic and cultural status deserves.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

City Centre Action Group

The three largest city centre Residents’ Associations have formed a new organisation the Bath City Centre Action Group.

The three Resident’s Associations - the Circus Area Residents Association (CARA), the Pulteney Estate Residents Association (PERA) and the city centre association, TARA - between them represent some 1000 city centre residents. They have been working closely together on issues of common interest for some time and have decided to formalise that collaborate by creating this new action group.

Sally Rothwell – Chairman of CARA said: “Over the last eighteen months we have seen how effective we are when we work together, and the new group will enable us to make joint working more effective still”

Ian Perkins, Chairman of TARA said: “Residents in the city centre share concerns about a number of key issues and in particular; the operation of the night time economy, the high levels of air pollution and enforcement.”

Nigel Websper Chairman PERA and Vice Chairman FOBRA said: “We all remain members of FOBRA but FOBRA had a very wide membership and we felt the need to create a structure which could more clearly be seen to represent the views of those who live in the city centre”

Thursday, 6 June 2013

OPA

The Development Control Committee agreed unanimously last night that enforcement action should be taken to terminate the unauthorised night club activities; the unauthorised use of the riverside terrace.

We welcome this decision but note that this is the second time the committee has told OPA to cease operating as a night club. In the interim there was also a decision by the licencing committee to restrict the use of music to that appropriate to a restaurant.  None of these previous decisions changed OPA's mode of operation.

We hope this time BANES will have the determination to make their decision stick.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Statement Prepared by TARA for the Meeting of Transport and Environment Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel Meeting Scheduled for the 7th May 2013


The proposed experimental Traffic Regulation Order to ban eastbound traffic on Dorchester Street between 10am and 6pm for a period of 18th month for all motor vehicles excluding buses, taxis, cycles and emergency vehicles is, it seem to us, a further example of the failed piecemeal approach to the complex problems of traffic management in Bath. Solving one problem without a plan to address the new problems it will cause.

For a significant number of residents this closure will mean that they will only have one practical exit route out of the city centre over North Parade Bridge and its junctions with the roads at each end which are always chaotic, often heavily congested and regularly completely gridlocked.

Traffic merges on to the bridge from two car parks and the local courts; there are bus stops, coaches park by the swimming baths waiting for school parties and often delivery vehicles block one lane while delivering to the clubs and restaurants.  The traffic lights at the junction with Pulteney Road let out very few vehicles at a time and often into traffic which is gridlocked. The few spaces created when the lights change are often filled by the cars emerging from the car parks and so no-one further back moves – and the queue backs up into the city centre.

We are not yet entirely clear what long-term decision about coach drop off will be made following the ill-fated Bog Island experiment but under most likely scenarios they will continue stopping very close to the exit of the road over North Parade Bridge and this will continue to cause additional congestion in the immediate area.  It is not clear whether coaches are to be included in the vehicles permitted to use Dorchester Street.   If not, this will mean a huge increase in coaches crossing North Parade Bridge.

It is high time that the responsible authorities stopped just tinkering with Bath's real and complex traffic management problems and developed a comprehensive management plan to address them.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

BTP – City Centre Improvements – Phase 1


We broadly support the day time pedestrianisation of these streets which most pedestrians already treat as though they were already pedestrianised.

However, we are yet again being offered a piecemeal proposal with:

1.      No overall plan for  managing traffic in the city centre to give it context

2.      No explanation of what impact the council expect these proposals to have elsewhere in the city centre

3.      No explanation of how this is going to work with other city centre schemes and in particular the “experiments” on Bog Island and Dorchester Street which in concert with this scheme will potential create significant problems for those living around the Abbey.

It is to be hoped that those residents who had the time to visit the consultation day at the Guildhall were able to get some help with their particular issues and we are gathering feedback about that. 

However, it would be much better if BANES moved from having one off projects, packages and experiments to a properly articulated and researched plan for managing traffic in the city and reducing pollution levels.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Ivy Licencing Aplication


We object to this application on the grounds that we believe it will add to public nuisance and crime and disorder in the city centre.

Firstly we note that these new premises fall within the area covered by the Cumulative Impact Policy and are within a short walk of two pubs, a wine bar and a nightclub.

The proposal that alcohol be served up to 4am is a cause of great concern because almost without exception premises which trade beyond 1 am are a focus of complaints about public nuisance and disorder. This is partly because of the type of drinker attracted by very late night drinking, partly because of the relative lack of police, other enforcement agency and public protection personnel on the streets at these hours and partly because these are hours when residents and hotel guest are particularly sensitive to noise and disturbance.

We note that the applicant makes no reference to a dispersal policy in their proposed conditions.

We have drawn the licencing committee's attention to the fact that most premises proposing to trade this late have conditions requiring them to maintain CCTV equipment

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

George Street and the Night Time Economy


The night time economy in Bath brings both benefits and problems to residents and visitors alike. Nowhere is this more true than George Street, where, in a space of some 300 metres there are 14 licensed premises. Bath city centre is unusual because of the large number of people who chose to live there; you are rarely more than 20 metres from somebody’s home. The population of the George Street area is very socially and economically diverse, with a high level of owner occupation. There is also a large hotel and a number of B&B’s and holiday apartments.

In the early evening the night time economy is mainly focussed on restaurants and late night shopping. After about 22:30 it is driven by drinkers and clubbers. In George Street itself people come to drink at pubs early in the evening. As these close the flow is then towards the three main night clubs. When these close between 02.00 and 03.00 substantial numbers return down Broad Street and Milsom Street to the various transport hubs.

Between April 2012 and February 2013 28.1% of the violent crime and 28.1% of the anti-social behaviour reported in Bath happened in the George Street area

Following unceasing complaints from their members, the two Residents Associations for the area, CARA and TARA, decided to undertake a joint study of the impact of the night time economy. Its purpose was to identify the issues created for residents, and the causes of these problems, with a view to generating a discussion about how they might be resolved.

We recognise that little can be done without the help of the relevant agencies. In the next phase of our study we are hoping to engage officers from these in a discussion of our findings and observations and begin a process of seeking practical solutions to what is an increasingly unsatisfactory situation.

Some of the proposals that have arisen in the course of our enquiry which we believe should form the basis of these discussions are summarised below:

- BANES need to review the operation of the Cumulative Impact Policy with a view to either:
a. Finding ways to make the policy effective
b. Consider replacing the policy with Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders

- BANES need to make use of its new powers to instigate reviews of all licences with poor, unenforcable  conditions particularly those relating to noise

- BANES should be using its new position as an interested party to review conditions on premises which routinely attract complaints and are routinely observed to breach conditions

- BANES should be using its new position as an interested party to hold licenced premises to account for promises and assertions made at licencing committee hearings

- CARA and TARA should work with the police and BANES on a campaign to improve understanding of and confidence in reporting processes

- CARA and TARA should work with BANES to improve the effectiveness of CCTV coverage

- BANES should explore the potential for reviewing decisions about the toilet provision licensed premises are required to make particularly where current provision was established more than 10 years ago


The full text of our report is available on request

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Comments on the draft B&NES Police & Crime Plan


There are three main area that we would want to see strengthened:

1. In dealing with drink fuelled anti-social behaviour we would like to see something about tackling problem licenced premises

2. The police make extensive use of CCTV and CCTV is key to effectively addressing problems of the NTE. CCTV is always vulnerable in times of austerity and it would be good to see some statement in the policing plan of its role and importance

3. PACT is a poor consultation mechanism and it would be good to see a commitment to creating a more representative and deliberative mechanism

Finally on comment about the Purple Flag reference. It could easily be read as complaisance about the current drink and drug fuelled problems of the NTE in Bath city centre and we are sure that is an impression which is not intended. We would like to see a clear acknowledging that notwithstanding the Purple Flag there is still much to be done.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Circus Traffic Management proposal


TARA supports in principle schemes to reduce pollution in the city centre. However the consultation on this particular proposal seems lacking in real information on which to base a judgement.

Most of our members will want to assess the impact of this plan on traffic congestion and air quality elsewhere in the city centre. We understand that BANES conducted a traffic survey aimed at assessing this and presumably undertook modelling based on the information collected.  However, none of this information has been supplied to residents.

We understand a key feature of the plan as originally discussed with Circus Area Residents was changing the phasing of the three sets of traffic lights in George Street. This seems to have been dropped from this plan without any explanation.

Finally the questionnaire sent out failed to ask residents or. as far as we are aware, businesses any questions about the likely impact on them of the proposed loading restrictions.

We think this consultation exercise should be redone with proper information and an explanation of the decision making process.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Blue Rooms


George Street is a focus for drink fuelled antisocial behaviour. Residents and tourists regularly complain about noise nuisance generated by the trading practices of local late night licence premises, including the Blue Rooms. Residents are routinely exposed to noise, street urination and defecation as well as acts of vandalism. In addition residents have often observed evidence of public drug taking. George Street is a focus for violent crime and disorder with police statistics appearing to show some 12% of reported violent crime in the city taking place is this one street. Residents regularly witness violence and anti-social behaviour, a good proportion of which goes unreported.

Much of this crime and disorder is directly attributable to the operation of the night time economy. George Street has the greatest density of licence premises in the city centre; a sizable proportion of these have very late night/early morning hours of operation. The Blue Rooms is one of the largest of these.

Residents and visitors regularly report being disturbed by noisy crowds outside the Blue Rooms and many elderly residents report feeling intimidated by the crowds who often obstruct the pavement.

A large number of families live in and around George Street and are impacted by the operation of licenced premises. Drugs and drug taking have become an increasingly visible feature of the night scene in this area.

Most residents  are aware of the reported findings which form the basis of the Police recommendations to the licensing  committee and will feel that it is vital that the committee support the Police in tackling what, on the basis of what is reported, is a centre of crime and disorder as well as a focus for public nuisance.